[02.02.00] » by Aeris32
A gentle breeze whispered through the silent trees as night embraced the
land. The Sweegy woods were but a shadow across the darkened landscape
because the sliver of visible moon cast little of its silvery light. A small
dot of red could be seen from a distance; the telltale glow of a small
campfire. Barely perceptible as if the builder wanted to remain hidden from
The camp belonged to a lone man. Arrayed about the fire were his belongings
as well as his steady mount, a chocobo, that lay near the fire its bulk
moving rhythmically up and down. The man sat on a short stump ignorantly
crushing mushrooms growing from its ancient crevices. He was intently at work
sharpening his sword which never seemed to keep it's edge. He continuously
blinked his dark eyes to keep them focused against the flicker of the fire's
light dancing along the steel blade.
He sniffed the cool air as he worked letting the wind carry him the scents of
the fresh wood and grasslands that lay beyond. He treasured each breath as if
it would be his last. He paused in his work and closed his eyes to take in
the silence of his little camp; much more quiet and calm then the camps he
was used to. He sighed heavily as he opened his eyes to the world once again
and studied the brush and trees around him. How alive they looked! Playfully
dancing shadows wrapped themselves around the trees in a loving embrace.
A crack and a low whine caused him to leap to his feet sword in hand; already
the ballet he had watched faded into dream. His eyes narrowed as he watched a
shadow that moved with purpose directly towards his fire. A man leading his
mount soon became visible against the forested back drop. The newcomer
stopped cautiously when he spied the blade man's hand. The newcomer's
chocobo sniffed towards the sleeping chocobo which still rested undisturbed.
"Greetings," the newcomer said slowly holding his arms out wide, "I mean no
harm I just wish to share your fire. The roads are dangerous these days there
is safety in numbers."
"Agreed," said the man with the sword, "If you mean no harm please make
yourself comfortable." He sat slowly back down and resumed his work, but his
eyes still watched the newcomer. In truth he was curious about anyone who
would travel the roads late at night. Despite its beauty Sweegy Woods was a
breeding ground for some dangerous beasts.
The newcomer unsaddled his mount and retrieved a small knife and block of
wood from his pack. He was garbed in dark traveling clothes dusty from the
road. It was not the clothes of the newcomer that had his attention; it was
the cloak the newcomer wore. It looked in the darkness to be a luxurious blue
with piping that appeared to be wrought of gold. The sword at the newcomer's
belt also had the man's attention.
"If you're going to share my fire, you should introduce yourself," the man
said softly to the newcomer setting down his sword and arching a dark eyebrow.
"My apologies," the newcomer said with a start, "my name is Nathaniel.
Nathaniel Bohwin. I am glad sir, that you let me use your fire." The man
studied Nathaniel's face as he spoke. It was thin with a touch of age and a
knowing luster to his eyes. Nathaniel had seen much of the world; perhaps too
"I'm Julius." he replied after a few seconds, "And I'm glad to have the
company. It is a dangerous time."
Nathaniel shifted his position to sit more comfortably, "I can hardly believe
the madness. One war ends and another begins. I wonder if it will ever end."
He sighed softly as if he had a personal stake in the new conflict. One of
succession, a reason for the nobility to fight again. Prince Larg and Prince
Goltana. One of abducted nobles. Julius shook his head as well.
"Madness is the best word to use I guess." Julius whispered softly. He
remembered back to the days of the Fifty Year War. The heroes that emerged
from that time of madness: Count Orlandu, the famous â€˜Thundergod Cid', whose
blade rag out for justice. Balbanes Beoulve the man who was credited with
ending the Fifty year war even though he was on his deathbed. His son the
brave Zalbag who became a successful general and leader. He wondered who
would be the heroes of this war.
"I beg your pardon?" Nathaniel asked from across the fire and Julius realized
he had spoken the last out loud. "I guarantee the heroes will all be the
nobility. Those that fight and die are never given that status. Especially
since when they rise from the mud of the villages that the nobility grind
Julius frowned at those words. He remembered fighting with the Hokuten to
destroy the Death Corps whose â€˜noble' ideas were often practiced by thugs
and rogues who only wanted to hurt those that had robbed them of their
dignity. Too bad they were blinded to the fact that they had robbed
themselves of their own dignity when they decided to bad together for revenge
instead of change.
"I'm sorry," Nathaniel murmured as he spied the frown on Julius' face, "It's
just that I've seen many of my friends die in the battlefield all to decide
who kidnapped who. Or who rules who. I wish the church would step in and end
this already. They alone have the power to."
"I don't have as much faith in the church." Julius replied as he shifted
himself to get more comfortable. He had a sneaking suspicion about Nathaniel
being a soldier somewhere, but this had clinched it. He wondered if the man
still fought; would be interested in going with him to rejoin the Hokuten at
Dogoula Pass. He seemed to despise war as much as Julius, but at least he'd
have another friend with him.
"I always put my faith in God." Nathaniel replied simply.
Julius looked down to the White Lion on the pommel of his sword. He had
always had faith in that emblem; always had faith he was doing right. He
looked upwards to the sky and saw only stars; he never had faith in God.
Julius looked to the emblem on the sword once more and found himself doubting
that symbol as well.
Julius only had faith in his friends, and most of them lay in shallow graves
on blood soaked fields.
"What is it?" Nathaniel asked as the silence grew longer.
"I grow weary of this whole bloody mess that Ivalice has become. The church
branding people heretics. The Hokuten trying to impose Larg's will while
spilling the blood of Goltana's men. Goltanna trying to flank Larg and
spilling the blood Larg's soldiers. The Abduction of Princess Ovelia."
Julius' voice grew with each spoken injustice. When he stopped, the silence
seemed eerie and uncomfortable.
"I tire of this endless war. Of backstabbing fiends and conscienceless
plotters all trying to become king or prince or whatever suites them. Most of
all , " Julius' voice cracked with unshed tears," most of all I don't want
to watch my friends die around me. I don't want to hold them as they plead
for me to say goodbye to loved ones for them.
"That is why I asked to leave. I asked to leave the White Lion behind and say
the goodbyes I promised I would. Held young wives as they cried themselves to
sleep. Promised stoic fathers that their son died with honor. Died a hero's
death." He realized he was shaking but the emotional release was
overwhelming. He had to let it out. "From all I've seen of this war there
will be no heroes. Only puppets, manipulaters, and those that gave their
lives for what they thought was right."
Nathaniel sat across from him looking over the flickering flames, but he felt
much closer to Julius. He had seen as much as Julius, but the knowledge he
now possessed had sealed their fate. theirs was a friendship that could not
be. A friendship that could never be. His own eyes burned with the tears of
shared horrors and atrocities. They understood each other. It was an odd
thing to know one's enemy was a reflection of oneself.
"You serve Larg?" Nathaniel asked, but he already knew the answer to that
Julius sighed and held his sword up enough to show the White Lion emblazoned
on the pommel. He waited for Nathaniel's nod before placing the sword back on
the ground. "Does it matter?" he asked with a touch of bitterness in his
"I serve Goltana." came the soft reply.
"So you are my enemy." Julius summed up the situation with biting sarcasm. He
watched to see if Nathaniel went for his blade, but Nathaniel's only motion
was a slow shaking of his head. Deep sorrow rooted in Julius' heart; they
could have been friends. He swallowed hard, perhaps he would end up running
Nathaniel through at the front. The madness of the conflict once again
touched him; infuriating him.
"I am your enemy in politics, not in mind or heart." Nathaniel said softly,
as if reading the thoughts of the man across the fire. A man that now seemed
almost a hundred miles away. "I am on my way to meet up with my unit at
Zeltennia Castle. My grandmother lives in a villiage not too far from here,
Boniast I believe. She has taken ill in the last month according to my
sisiter's letters. I left to visit her as the front began to shift. the
Nanten should be on the move as we speak."
"Are you sure you should trust your enemy with such knowledge?" Julius asked
warmly, glad that the man had not gone for his sword. They were brothers in
spirit if nothing else. Julius had to smile.
"About which," the man replied with a returned smile, "the moving army or my
A shared laugh echoed through the shrouded woods which did not seem so
silent, or lonely, anymore.